Thursday, July 28, 2016

With better than a dozen cruises under my belt I say Oceania Cruises has the Finest Cuisine at Sea

We cruised from Barcelona to Malta on Oceania Cruises newest ship the Sirena and from beginning to end it was foodie heaven.

I learned early on to temper my expectations from galleys that serve hundreds of people but Jacques Pepin has lead the Oceania culinary team since inception in 2003 and they have changed dining for all cruisers by raising the bar to a high level.  No midnight buffets here and “lobster night” doesn't exist, instead my favourite crustacean is a daily part of the menu in a variety of dishes.

The Grand Dining Room is grand indeed, with over-sized arm chairs, crisp clean linen and lots of shine. It serves consistently good food from a thoughtful menu.  There is something for everyone  and the esteemed Canyon Ranch manages the healthy menu.

Grand Dining Room Turbot with stuffed clams and champagne foam

Grand Dining Room Beet Carpaccio

Grand Dining Room Bouillabaisse with Pastry

Italian food is one of the worlds most loved and Toscana restaurant delivers.   The crab cakes were outstanding with no filler masking the sweet crab and a nicely spiced aioli to round it out. Bistecca Florentine got rave reviews and sole meunière, one of my favourite dishes, was as good as any I've eaten. Our waiter was a young woman born and raised in Florence and embodied the warmth and sophistication of that great city. The room was comfortable with banquets and back cushions thoughtfully offered. 

Toscana Crab Cake

Toscana Lobster Risotto

Toscana The humble Sole Meunier was my favourite 

Red Ginger had the over the top service only an Asian restaurant can pull off, and the food was pretty great there too. Lobster Pad Thai was one of the great Oceania lobster dishes.  A tea menu and choice of chopstick styles were interesting.
Red Ginger Lobster Pad Thai

A final nod to the Terrace Cafe, the nicely served buffet and the many Americanos they delivered to me al fresco. 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

3 Yums Up for El Quim de la Boqueria the food highlight of our Europe trip

After a great 1st night in Barcelona we spent the morning sightseeing and working up an appetite for El Quim de la Boqueria.  The Boqueria market is right on La Rambla  near the Joan Miro mosaic.  Full of fresh food stalls catering to the chefs of Barcelona, there are also occasional vendors preparing and serving outstanding food at bars with stools. 
La Boqueria

Near the centre is El Quim, star of the show and rumored to be the breakfast choice for chefs.   We had lunch and it was great fun with some of the best food we ate in a couple of weeks of gastronomic indulgence.  
Scallops with Littleneck Clams and Pea Puree

The scallops stood out as the best of the best in a series of perfect dishes.
El Quim Menu
The tapas menu has all the standard fare but at a hightened level of excellence.  I will definitely try the breakfast next time.  Add 2 fried eggs to anything and it's better,  Right?

Patatas Bravas
I love potatoes and order this dish whenever I see it. El Quim made the best I've ever had.  Perfect potatoes in a just right spicy sauce. Yum! Yum! Yum!
Prawns and garlic
Last but not least.  I'm sure these prawns were in the sea less than 24 hrs ago.  

El Quim is a great experience that is fun, easy on your wallet and doesn't need reservations 3 months in advance.  I highly recommend it.

Back outside on La Rambla be sure to notice the Joan Miro Mosaic under your feet and the funky seed packages at the flower stalls.
Hot Seeds on La Rambla

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Our 3rd time in Barcelona wins our hearts and we can't wait to go again

Our recent trip to Europe started in Barcelona  with 2 nights at the H10 Montcada on Via Laietana.  We really enjoyed this hotel, from check in with a glass of cava; the comfortable room with a view of the cathedral and Nespresso machine; the rooftop bar with city view to the great breakfast with 2 double commercial Nespresso machines.  Combined with the great location a block from the cathedral and we have a new favourite hotel.
David enjoying a Filo Munich at El Vaso de Oro
After a drink on the rooftop to get our bearings we headed out to explore the Gothic Quarter while following David’s beer nose to Cerveceria El Vaso do Oro, a tapas bar on the edge of La Barceloneta specializing in beer.

Vaso Vino - very drinkable for only 2.50 EUR 
Tuna salad on a Grande scale

Salted Tuna was new for us.  Really great with beer.

We loved El Vaso with the long polished bar, beautiful beer steins and great food well prepared and presented.   Full of happy people, both sides of the bar.